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Letter of 'Thanks' to the President
Opinions on the new and 'improved' Medicare bill
by one angry aging American.
By Jerri Ann Lewis

Dear Mr. President,

More than 40 million seniors and disabled people depend on the Medicare program. In addition, our government, drug companies, and the AARP are things these citizens see as trustworthy and reliable. Therefore, your reconstruction of our Medicare Act flaunted by you as "a victory for America's seniors" has to be a cruel joke since it affectively violates our senior's rights to obtain their medication outside of the United States.1 U.S. Pharmaceutical companies and the American Association of Retired People have supported your new Medicare acts only for reasons of greed and selfishness. In time, I believe many people will agree with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Many people will wake up and discover that the Medicare bill is a cruel hoax... It does not provide the kind of benefits that they had hoped for, and it will lead to the undermining of Medicare traditionally."1 Therefore, I am writing you on behalf of the pissed-off Americans that are tired of your lies, deceptions, and broken promises.

Thank you for deceiving the American public on the cost budgeted for the new Medicare bill. You have not only cheated the American public, but you have lied to United States legislators when you promised to keep the cost of the Medicare reform within your $400 billion budget. That original price tag was extreme to say the least. That is, until White House staff, within weeks of the bill being passed, confirmed the true cost of the Medicare bill to be an estimated $535 billion.2 No matter which cost estimate rings true, "Liberals said the bill gave too much money to private corporations, in part because of a provision for payments to insurance companies to encourage them to offer affordable policies to seniors."3

Also allow me to congratulate you on your superb job at acquiring funds to aid in your Medicare proposal from the AARP and U.S. Pharmaceutical companies. With a $7 million advertising campaign launched by the AARP in support of the new bill this seems to be a huge conflict of interest. "What happened to AARP? They became too capitalist and are no longer, if they ever were, a senior public citizen advocacy organization."4 It sounds like some "sweetheart deals" between you, your administration, U.S. drug companies, and AARP. The true victory is for them, not for people over 65. Your administration, has turned Medicare into another issue of making the "big guy", Drug Companies and AARP in this case, rich. There was a time when seniors trusted the AARP. This may be no longer once people remember that "AARP itself sells insurance and also sells prescription drugs, so the group stands to reap huge financial gains from this change."5

However, I cannot express my gratitude enough for reforming the Medicare bill to include prescription drugs. Once my grandmother, who normally votes Republican, comes to realize that she will have to choose between paying her electric bill, purchasing groceries, or obtaining her medicine because of the new Medicare acts she will most likely become a Democrat. However, once she has paid the premium on the personal insurance that she will have to apply for because of the provision in your 'improved' bill she may not be able to afford the gasoline to drive to the voting polls. Let me remind you: The new bill will "force people to make a stark choice: either pay sharply increased premiums to stay in traditional Medicare, where they can choose their doctor; or be forced out, into an HMO."5 Furthermore, the discount card guaranteed to provide 10% to 25% savings will be a big help to her in purchasing her prescription drugs. Except that you forgot to tell people that your deal with the Pharmaceutical companies is not exactly what you promised. In actuality "the White House plan locks seniors into the cards they initially choose, then allows the card sponsors "to change their prices on a weekly basis," thus never guaranteeing any benefit at all."6

Thank you and your administration for forcing opposing house members to vote yes for your Medicare plan. I hope you have slept all right at night knowing that voting illegally ran for an extra 165 minutes so that supporters of the bill could pressure, threaten and bribe the opposition. Allowing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to have unlimited access to the House floor during the vote to coerce hesitant Republicans is not a normal practice. Then there was the pressure from you with your phone calls to opposing Republican members during the voting session. This and an outlandish bribe-threat to another makes a mockery of the entire system. Representative Nick Smith refused a bride for the funding of his son's political future made by undisclosed GOP leaders. Refusal of the bribe led to a threat to make sure Brad Smith was never elected to a Congressional seat.7 This should not come as a surprise to anyone since cheating the electoral voting system is what actually put you into office.

It is a joy to know that we will continue to have high-priced prescription drug companies in America with which the federal government cannot interfere.3 Without some sort of control by the government drug prices will continue to escalate. Thus, there my come a day when my grandmother, as well as other grandmothers and grandfathers, must choose between food, electricity, or medication. Since the majority of senior citizens, most surviving with fixed incomes, do or will take some form of prescription drug, I cannot imagine the pain and suffering that will continue or increase due to the Medicare revision by your administration.

Many seniors may have solved the sky-rocketing drug prices by shopping for cheaper medication in other countries until your new Medicare acts made it forbidden. It is a disgrace to know that other countries will sell Americans cheaper prescription medications than the United States of America will. Perhaps some lawmakers will be able to change these matters within your new bill. Then maybe my grandmother and her friends will have a right to purchase medication from countries like Canada and not be ripped-off from inflated drug prices set by large American pharmaceutical companies. "The news on the Republican Medicare bill gets better and better for drug company profits and HMOs, and worse and worse for seniors and the Medicare program," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the law's strongest opponents.3

"The Social Security trust fund is expected to be exhausted in 2042, the same as predicted in last year's report. Medicare and Social Security are financed by dedicated payroll taxes that go to trust funds used to pay expenses for the programs."8 For that reason, as a future senior citizen, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for causing me to have to worry about paying for my health care when I get older. (As if I don't have to currently worry about job loss, poor health insurance, my child's education, a sky-high American deficit, and having a big, fat, nuclear bomb land on my house in the middle of the night by some terrorist organization.)

We cannot thank you enough for your sorry additions to the Medicare Program. "In just one year, George Bush's reckless policies have sped Medicare seven years closer to bankruptcy," [Presidential Candidate John] Kerry said in a statement.8 Above all, thank you for being very consistent. If nothing else, the American people have found you have consistently lied and deceived them. In November, I believe the more enlightened Americans will show you there disapproval by voting for John Kerry. Victory for a new Presidential Candidate will then stop you from putting your (destructive) mark on anymore governmental programs and policies.

One Angry Aging American

1 CBS/AP, "Bush Signs Medicare Bill," December 8, 2003.
2 Bernie Sanders, "How a Bad Bill Becomes Law," In These Times. CommonDreams Newsletter. March 10, 2004.
3 Vicki Kemper, "Medicare Drug Benefit Plan to Far Exceed Cost Estimate," Los Angeles Times. January 30, 2004
4 Hank Roth, Senior Public Citizen Advocacy or Crass Capitalist Exploitation? PHP-NUKE. February 27, 2004.
5 Robert Kuttner, "AARP (headed by Republican) Sells Out Medicare," Boston Globe. November 19, 2003.
6 "Feds will keep drug discount on the up and up", Wichita Eagle, 12/11/2003.
7 "Republican arm-twisting over Medicare bill may have crossed a legal line," The Carpetbagger Report, December 2, 2003.
8 Jonathan Nicholson, "Medicare Seen Insolvent by 2019," REUTERS. March 23, 2004.

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